Pakistan officials have temporarily called off the execution of a wheelchair-bound paraplegic man convicted of murder because the rules clearly state you have to walk to the gallows on your own two feet, and he clearly can't.
Abdul Basit, 43, was scheduled to be hung in the province of Punjab, but a local magistrate halted the execution because the rules stated that the prisoner must "reach the execution point on his own feet." Basit, convicted of murder in 2009, contracted meningitis while in prison and can no longer stand, noted The Guardian.
"We have thoroughly observed this case and reached a conclusion that there are no rules available to guide us on execution of a paraplegic person," said attending magistrate Dilshad Malik.
In the meantime, Malik said Basit's case would be referred to senior government officials in Punjab province.
The BBC News
reported that since Pakistan reintroduced the death penalty in December 2014 it has executed of 239 people.
A court had initially declined to stop Basit's hanging over human rights concerns.
That brought a strong response from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
"Human rights activists throughout Pakistan and beyond have been shocked to learn of the orders for the execution of convict Abdul Basit on September 22, despite the fact that the unfortunate man is paralyzed from his waist below," reads a commission's statement
"… In these circumstances the execution of Abdul Basit will offend against all norms of civilized justice, raise awkward questions about the Pakistan justice system's insensitivity to humanitarian imperatives, and indict the Pakistan state and society as brutal entities," the statement continued.
Kate Higam, a caseworker for the anti-death penalty charity Reprieve, told The Guardian that she was pleased the provincial government made the move to stop the execution.
"It is welcome that the Punjab government has apparently seen sense and stopped this hanging from going ahead," said Higam. "There was a real risk that Basit could have faced horrific, prolonged torment – violating both the prison's own rules and Pakistan's ban on cruel and unusual punishment."
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